The malachite kingfisher (Corythornis cristatus) is a river kingfisher which is widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara. It is largely resident except for seasonal climate-related movements.

This is a small kingfisher, 13 cm (5.1 in) in length. The general colour of the upper parts of the adult bird is bright metallic blue. The head has a short crest of black and blue feathers, which gives rise to the scientific name. The face, cheeks, and underparts are rufous and white patches are on the throat and rear neck sides.

The bill is black in young birds and reddish-orange in adults; the legs are bright red. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.

This species is common to reeds and aquatic vegetation near slow-moving water or ponds. The flight of the malachite kingfisher is rapid, with the short, rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur. It usually flies low over water.

The bird has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. These are usually low over the water. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly with a splash and usually returns at once with a struggling captive.

Large food items are beaten on a bough or rail; small fish and insects are promptly swallowed. A fish is usually lifted and carried by its middle, but its position is changed, sometimes by tossing it into the air, before it is swallowed head downwards. Fish, aquatic insects, and crustaceans are eaten.

The nest is a tunnel in a sandy bank, usually over water. Both birds excavate. Most burrows incline upward before the nesting chamber is reached.

Three or four clutches of three to six round, white eggs are placed on a litter of fish bones and disgorged pellets.

The call of this kingfisher is then a short shrill seek. The breeding song is a chuckling li-cha-cha-chui-chui.

The malachite kingfisher was first described by the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas in 1764 and given the binomial name Alcedo cristata.

A closely related species in Madagascar, the Madagascar malachite kingfisher, or Malagasy kingfisher, (Corythornis vintsioides), has a black bill and greenish crest, and is not quite as dependent on water as the African species. It is otherwise similar in plumage and behaviour to the more widespread species. Both the São Tomé kingfisher and the Príncipe kingfisher are usually considered subspecies, but are sometimes considered distinct species.
Malachite Kingfisher
Date Location Count
2020-05-09 06:50Nkuba Conservation Area (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund)
2020-05-09 06:50Queen Elizabeth II NP--Mweya3
2020-05-09 06:00Ruhengeri--general area
2020-05-20 09:38Lac Burera (north end)1
2020-05-09 07:31Lake Bunyoni
2020-05-14 07:12Nyabarongo River @ RN11
2020-05-09 00:00Nyarutarama Lake and Golf Course
2020-05-09 17:20Lutembe Bay Ramsar Site1
2020-05-04 11:00Mount Elgon NP--Sassa Trail Bumasola to Sassa Camp1
2020-05-09 05:45Lochinvar NP1
2020-05-09 05:49Kasanka NP1
2020-05-09 10:53Maasai Mara NR--Mara Triangle1
2020-05-09 12:14Tumbili Cliff Lodge1
2020-05-09 15:30Lower Zambezi NP
2020-05-09 07:37Malu Farm1
2020-05-04 08:00Kirstenhof Wetland1
2020-05-17 09:30U of N Kabete Campus & Field Station (incl. Loresho Swamp)2
2020-05-09 13:07Kabete Dam (Gatara River)3
2020-05-01 14:03Nairobi NP--Nagolomon Dam1
2020-05-24 06:53Nairobi NP
2020-05-09 06:11Maanzoni Sanctuary1
2020-05-09 06:18Eagle Canyon Golf Estate1
2020-05-09 05:54Polokwane Bird Sanctuary1
2020-05-09 11:31Lake Jilore1
2020-05-09 12:00Nguuni Nature Sanctuary1
2020-05-09 16:02Arabuko-Sokoke Forest--Swamp1
2020-05-09 09:10Haller Park--Bamburi Nature Trail2
2020-05-09 06:30Arabuko-Sokoke NP--Kenya Forest Service2
2020-05-22 06:32Sabaki River Estuary4
2020-05-09 06:31Klaserie Private Nature Reserve1
2020-05-09 13:02Phinda GR2
2020-05-14 10:05Dunes de Dovela2